NORFOLK, VA. (WAVY) – A longtime Ocean View bar is being rebuilt after a fire last year, and city guides hope that just more community-related projects are on the way.
The Norfolk City Council will vote on it on Tuesday their budget year 2022, which now also includes the establishment of the Ocean View Tourism Development Fund. The fund, which will start at $ 150,000, will be used to attract new tourism businesses to invest in the area from Willoughby Spit to East Beach.
As of 2017, the area has been designated a “Tourist Zone,” meaning it is eligible for grants from the Virginia Tourism Development Funding program. However, councilor Tommy Smigiel, who represents Ocean View, has so far said the city has not provided funding.
“We’ve been looking at this for a few years,” said Smigiel.
With the support of Mayor Kenny Alexander, the new fund could be set up in July.
“Anyone wanting to come in, business attracting or attracting tourists would apply and then get some money to help move the process forward,” Smigiel said.
Smigiel emphasized that he had no vision of the Ocean View community becoming something like the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, a 42-block-long resort with high-rise hotels.
“But we might also want a nice hotel. So if we want to do a 3-mile or a triathlon or some other big event, there are places where people can stay,” said Smigiel. “It is well known that Ocean View is something to invest in.”
Smigiel is committed to reversing the negative “stigma” of Ocean View.
In recent years, the city has bought and demolished older properties to improve access to the public beach.
While the new grant funds will only be available for “new” businesses, a longtime business owner in the community said he was determined to rebuild the famous ones Thirsty camel pole that burned last year.
“As soon as I get my permission in order, we’ll get started,” said Ronnie Boone Sr. on Monday.
Boone, which also owns the Ocean View Fishing Pier, tore down the shell of its long-standing waterhole last week.
Now only his mascot “Ernie” the camel remains. He said rest assured Ernie will be staying when the new bar is rebuilt in the same spot.